At its Oct. 16 meeting, College Council (CC) passed a resolution in support of establishing Asian American studies (AAS) as an academic program at the College. The resolution, which was co-authored by Tyler Tsay ’19, Ayami Hatanaka ’18, Kathy Bi ’18, Spencer Carrillo ’20, Julia Yarak ’18, Audrey Koh ’21 and Serapia Kim ’19 and co-sponsored by Asian American Students in Action, the Minority Coalition, the Davis Center and Koreans of Williams, passed by a vote of 22-0-0.
The resolution calls upon the College’s administration to publicly commit to establishing an AAS program by 2023, demands at least three full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty lines in AAS and commits CC to supporting the AAS movement in the future. The resolution occurs as a working group from the College’s Curricular Planning Committee (CPC) considers the establishment of an Asian American studies program this year. Calls for such a program have stretched over the past 30 years.
The passage of this resolution is another sign of broad student support for the establishment of an AAS program at the College. “CC’s unanimous passage of the resolution in support of establishing Asian American studies at Williams by 2023 is a reflection of wide student support for this program,” Kim and Suiyi Tang ’20, who presented the resolution to CC, said. “Asian American history and culture is a relevant, interdisciplinary field of study that provides a critical lens for understanding American narratives.”
The CC resolution calls for two forms of support – the allocation of FTE and the availability of relevant courses – that are particularly critical for the establishment of any self-sustaining academic program. “In order to establish a robust and sustainable Asian American Studies, we need to move beyond parity – not only replacing the anticipated leave of retiring and visiting faculty, but providing additional courses to satisfy the consistent student demand for AAS,” Tang and Kim said. “Thus, we are hoping for at least two additional FTEs, and a public commitment by the College to establish a full AAS concentration by 2023.”
The resolution also has the internal purpose of committing CC itself to supporting the AAS movement both tangibly and intangibly. “There was intention, in the third bullet point, to hold College Council itself responsible in the future for supporting the movement, not strictly in a financial way, but including in a financial way,” Carrillo, the CC treasurer and a co-author of the resolution, said. “That is one way we will be held accountable to the student body in terms of funding different events that the movement want to hold and showing tangible support for the movement moving forward.” This type of CC financial support is not limited just to registered student organizations (RSOs) but to other student movements as well. “Our funding is generally pretty open, so we’re definitely comfortable funding different student groups like this that aren’t RSOs,” Carrillo said. “Generally, most or everyone on Council is in support of the Asian American studies movement and establishing that program on campus, such that supporting it on Council is not a difficult thing to do in those types of votes.”
The leadership of CC was excited to formally note CC’s support for this movement. “We’re excited that Council unanimously passed this long-awaited resolution on Asian American studies,” CC Co-President Lizzy Hibbard ’19 said. “The current Asian American Studies movement is the culmination of decades of student activism, and this resolution formalizes College Council’s support and demonstrates that the student body is wholeheartedly in support of the establishment of an Asian American Studies program.”
The College’s response, however, is yet to be seen, as CC and many students await an answer.